Wednesday, February 21, 2024

2020 Delhi pogrom: Citizens’ chargesheet against hate-mongering

On February 26, 2020, the Delhi High Court asked the Delhi Police to take a “conscious decision” to register an FIR within 24 hours against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, and Parvesh Verma for their speeches that led to the incitement of violence in North East Delhi. Justice Muralidhar expressed “anguish” that the city is burning and questioned the Delhi Police on the delay and its lack of acknowledgement of the speeches themselves as crimes. The Solicitor General of India, Mr. Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, repeatedly asserted that FIRs will only be “registered at an appropriate stage.” However, the matter reverted to a different bench for the hearing on February 27, 2020, and the Court gave the Union of India four weeks to file a counter-affidavit in response. On the night of February 26, 2020, Justice Muralidhar was transferred from the Delhi High Court.

It has been three years since then, and not a single FIR has been filed yet by the police against leaders of the ruling party for making speeches that openly spread hatred and called for violence against the anti-CAA protesters.

What followed the Delhi Police’s refusal to act was the pre-planned, targeted and systematic pogrom against Muslims in North East Delhi. It led to the death of at least 53 persons, 250 injured persons, and over 2000 persons were displaced.

In the days following, over 700 FIRs were filed in various police stations across the district. Even before the investigations had reached the formative stages, the Delhi Police began putting out an official narrative that pinned the blame for the violence on its victims and the protesters in general. Cheered on by online trolls and the pro-establishment media ecosystem, the investigation has successfully been turned into a virtual blank check for interrogating, harassing and criminalising anyone involved in the citizenship protests.

The Special Cell of the Delhi Police took over the investigation of FIR 59/2020, lodged by the Crime Branch on 6 March 2020, and invoked sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 (UAPA) in the case to indefinitely detain students, activists, and some of the most well-known faces of the protests. The chargesheets filed by the Special Cell, in this case, have conjured a picture of an elaborate conspiracy, hatched by an intersection of Left-wing, Islamist and civil society activists to ‘defame the nation’ through a combination of protests and writings.

In the narrative that has been built and propagated by the Delhi Police over the course of last year, the real perpetrators of the violence, the people that openly called anti-CAA protesters ‘traitors’ who should be shot down in the streets, have escaped all scrutiny. The impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of the pogrom is such that on 23 February 2021, exactly one year after his incendiary speech that sparked off the violence, Kapil Mishra said that he had “no regrets” and “would do it all over again.” 

Using only publicly available records of the speeches made by these prominent political leaders, there has been an attempt to draw up a charge sheet detailing their crimes. It is essential to understand that this work has not come out of any fresh investigation. It is based on publicly available and well-documented facts that are so commonly known that they should have made the police act on their own.

Hence, this “Citizens’ Chargesheet” is a testimony to the times that we are living in. This is the process that the State and the various institutions of the State should have carried out while ensuring that the process of investigation of this violence remains, at least in part, unbiased and truthful. There has never been any doubt about who committed the violence; thus, this chargesheet.

Since the State, through all measures, direct and indirect, refuses to fulfil even a part of its duty and instead has created fictional stories, it is sought to place this citizen’s document in the court of public opinion.

This document is a compilation of an online repository containing information on all of these perpetrators. It addresses the chronology of events in terms of inciting the violence in North East Delhi. It also invokes the charges under the IPC, that should be brought against the perpetrators. We have deliberately refrained from citing provisions of the UAPA or Section 124A of the IPC. 

In the current climate of India, investigations by different bodies of the State are taking place with a vengeance, towards the country’s most marginalized and oppressed people. This climate has been carefully created over time, by attacking the liberty of those who carry a conscience of justice in their hearts. As an exercise, this work was undertaken as a response to the false narratives that the State has created under the garb of investigations.

Along with administrative failures and inaction by the courts, the leaders of the country—Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and their assorted underlings in the ruling BJP—have created a culture of polarisation, hate, and deep mistrust between citizens of the country, which is also reflected in the speeches documented in this chargesheet. This is a culture which makes violence against members of minority communities, oppressed castes, and other marginalised populations, an accepted and well-known reality.

We hope that this document reaches a huge number of people as a declaration that not everyone has been silenced and that the injustices being carried out by the government are being taken note of, if not more. Even in times as dark as these, it will be difficult for the state to imprison the conscience of all its citizens.


Citizens’ Chargesheet

Description of the Accused against whom chargesheet is produced

Details of the Accused Person Chargesheeted: A1

  1. Name:                                                Amit Shah
  2. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  3. Father’s Name:                                  Anil Chandra Shah,
  4. Date of Birth:                                     22.10.1964 (57 Yrs)
  5. Sex (Male/Female):                            Male
  6. Nationality:                                        Indian
  7. Passport No.:                  N/A            Date of Issue:        N/A
  8. Religion:                                            Hindu
  9. Whether SC/ST:                                No
  10. Occupation:                                       Minister of Home Affairs, Government of India
  11. Address:                                             ____________
  12. Present Address:                                ____________
  13. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  14. Provisional Criminal No.                             ____________
  15. Regular Criminal No. (if known):       ____________
  16. Date of Arrest:                                  
  17. Date of Release on Bail:                    
  18. Date of which forwarded to Police:   
  19. Under Acts & Sections:

Act:             IPC,   Sections: 120B, 153B, 166, 504, 505, 298 of I.P.C.

The Representation of the People Act, 1951: Section: 123 (3A)

  1. Name(s) of Bailer/Sureties and Address(es):         N/A
  2. Previous Convictions with Case References:         N/A
  3. Status of Accused:                                    

Description of the Accused against whom chargesheet is produced

Details of the Accused Person Charge-Sheeted: A2

  1. Name:                                                Kapil Mishra
  2. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  3. Father’s Name:                                  Dr. Annapurna Mishra,
  4. Date of Birth:                                    13.11.1980 (41 Yrs)
  5. Sex (Male/Female):                            Male
  6. Nationality:                                        Indian
  7. Passport No.:                  N/A            Date of Issue:        N/A
  8. Religion:                                            Hindu
  9. Whether SC/ST:                                No
  10. Occupation:                                                Former MLA represented Karawal Nagar (Delhi Assembly Constituency)
  11. Address:                                             ____________
  12. Present Address:                                ____________
  13. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  14. Provisional Criminal No.                             ____________
  15. Regular Criminal No. (if known):       ____________
  16. Date of Arrest:                                  
  17. Date of Release on Bail:                    
  18. Date of which forwarded to Police:   
  19. Under Acts & Sections:
  1. Act:             IPC,   Sections: 504, 505, 506, 499, 166, 157, 107 r/w 302, 107 r/w 146, 153, 153A, 153B, 298 of I.P.C.
  2. Act:             Representation of the People Act 1951., Sections: 123 (3A) punishable under Section 125
  1. Name(s) of Bailer/Sureties and Address(es):         N/A
  2. Previous Convictions with Case References:         N/A
  3. Status of Accused:                                      

Description of the Accused against whom chargesheet is produced

Details of the Accused Person Charge-Sheeted: A3

  1. Name:                                                Anurag Singh Thakur
  2. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  3. Father’s Name:                                  Prem Kumar Dhumal
  4. Date of Birth:                                    24.10.1974 (47 Yrs)
  5. Sex (Male/Female):                            Male
  6. Nationality:                                        Indian
  7. Passport No.:                  N/A            Date of Issue:        N/A
  8. Religion:                                            Hindu
  9. Whether SC/ST:                                No
  10. Occupation:                                       Member of the Lower House of Parliament in India (Lok Sabha)
  11. Address:                                   ____________
  12. Present Address:                      ____________
  13. Whether Verified:                     Yes
  14. Provisional Criminal No.                   ____________
  15. Regular Criminal No. (if known):____________
  16. Date of Arrest:                          _____________
  17. Date of Release on Bail:                    
  18. Date of which forwarded to Police:   
  19. Under Acts & Sections:
  1. Act:             IPC,   Sections: 120B, 504, 505, 506, 499, 166 , 107 r/w 302, 107 r/w 146, 153, 153A, 153B, and 298.
  2. Act:             Representation of the People Act 1951., Sections: Section 123 (3A) punishable under Section 125
  1. Name(s) of Bailer/Sureties and Address(es):         N/A
  2. Previous Convictions with Case References:         NIL
  3. Status of Accused:                                      

Description of the Accused against whom chargesheet is produced

Details of the Accused Person Charge-Sheeted: A4

  1. Name:                                                Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma
  2. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  3. Father’s Name:                                  Sahib Singh Verma
  4. Date of Birth:                                    07.11.1977 (44 Yrs)
  5. Sex (Male/Female):                            Male
  6. Nationality:                                        Indian
  7. Passport No.:                  N/A            Date of Issue:        N/A
  8. Religion:                                            Hindu
  9. Whether SC/ST:                                No
  10. Occupation:                                       Member of Parliament (MP) from West Delhi Lok Sabha Constituency
  11. Address:                                             ____________
  12. Present Address:                                ____________
  13. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  14. Provisional Criminal No.                             ____________
  15. Regular Criminal No. (if known):       ____________
  16. Date of Arrest:                                    ____________
  17. Date of Release on Bail:                    
  18. Date of which forwarded to Police:   
  19. Under Acts & Sections:
  1. Act:             IPC,   Sections: 153, 153A, 153B, 298, 499, 504, 505, 506, 107 r/w 146 IPC,
  2. Act:             Representation of the People Act 1951., Sections: 123 (3A) punishable under Section 125
  1. Name(s) of Bailer/Sureties and Address(es):         N/A
  2. Previous Convictions with Case References:         NIL
  3. Status of Accused:                                      

Description of the Accused against whom chargesheet is produced

Details of the Accused Person Charge-Sheeted: A5

  1. Name:                                                Ragini Tiwari @ Janki Behan
  2. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  3. Father’s Name:                                  N/A
  4. Date of Birth:                                    ____________
  5. Sex (Male/Female):                            Female
  6. Nationality:                                        Indian
  7. Passport No.:                  N/A            Date of Issue:        N/A
  8. Religion:                                            Hindu
  9. Whether SC/ST:                                No
  10. Occupation:                                       Self-Proclaimed Hindutva Leader
  11. Address:                                             ____________
  12. Present Address:                                ____________
  13. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  14. Provisional Criminal No.                             ____________
  15. Regular Criminal No. (if known):       ____________
  16. Date of Arrest:                                    ____________________
  17. Date of Release on Bail:                    
  18. Date of which forwarded to Police:   
  19. Under Acts & Sections:
  1. Act:             IPC,   Sections: 504, 505, 506, 499, 166, 157, 107 r/w 302, 107 r/w 146, 153, 153A, 153B, 298 of I.P.C.
  2. Act:             Representation of the People Act 1951., Sections: 123 (3A) is punishable under Section 125
  3. Act:             Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Section: Section 3(u)
  1. Name(s) of Bailer/Sureties and Address(es):         N/A
  2. Previous Convictions with Case References:         NIL
  3. Status of Accused:                                     

Description of the Accused against whom chargesheet is produced

Details of the Accused Person Charge-Sheeted: A5

  1. Name:                                               Ajay Singh Bisht @ Yogi Adityanath
  2. Whether Verified:                               Yes
  3. Father’s Name:                                  N/A
  4. Date of Birth:                                    05 June 1972
  5. Sex (Male/Female):                          Male
  6. Nationality:                                        Indian
  7. Passport No.:                  N/A            Date of Issue:        N/A
  8. Religion:                                            Hindu
  9. Whether SC/ST:                                No
  10. Occupation:                                       Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
  11. Address:                                             ____________
  12. Present Address:                                ____________
  13. Whether Verified:                               
  14. Provisional Criminal No.                             ____________
  15. Regular Criminal No. (if known):       ____________
  16. Date of Arrest:                                    ____________________
  17. Date of Release on Bail:                    
  18. Date of which forwarded to Police:   
  19. Under Acts & Sections:
  1. Act:             IPC,   Sections: 504, 505, 506, 499, 166, 157, 107 r/w 302, 107 r/w 146, 153, 153A, 153B, 298 of I.P.C.
  2. Act:             Representation of the People Act 1951., Sections: 123 (3A) punishable under Section 125

On 04 December 2019, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet and tabled in the Lok Sabha on 09 December 2019. It was passed the next day on 10 December 2019. Subsequently, it was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 11 December 2019 and assented to by the President on 12 December 2019, thereby becoming the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA).

Immediately after the Bill was introduced, many discussions began to take place in the public sphere around its constitutionality and desirability. It was pointed out that since the law amends the Citizenship Act 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries from all religious backgrounds except Muslims, it creates arbitrary discrimination on the basis of religion, and makes religion the basis of citizenship for illegal immigrants. Moreover, the speeches and statements of the then ruling party president and current Home Minister Amit Shah explicitly linked the citizenship amendment to the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), implying that the NRC will be used to exclude people from the register and then all but Muslims will be included through the CAA. Soon thereafter, the citizenship laws became the subject of intense public scrutiny, particularly the provision providing for the National Register of Indian Citizens and the rules (Citizenship Rules, 2003) regarding the procedure for creating a National Population Register (NPR).

The discussions around the new citizenship amendment soon turned into a growing protest movement. The protesters were also raising questions about the NPR-NRC exercise, which was scheduled to begin in April 2020. The main sites of the protests were University campuses and other public spaces. Excessive force was used by the police to repress the protests in several places. On 15/16 December 2019, police forcefully entered the campuses of Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh (UP), subjecting students to beatings leading to severe injuries, and causing colossal damage to the University property. The excessive force by police against anti-CAA protesters led to people being injured and killed due to the police using both lethal and non-lethal weapons, with the highest known number of killings in the state of UP.

The government’s response to the protests was not confined to police action against protesters. The members of the ruling BJP also took to the streets to express their support for the law. In these pro-CAA marches and rallies, the first signs of a large-scale incitement to hatred and violence began to emerge in the form of hateful slogans, speeches and religious profiling of the anti-CAA protesters.

The tone of these rallies was set by PM Narendra Modi himself in a speech given on 15 December 2019 in Jharkhand during an election rally. Defending the CAA from its critics, the PM said that those who are opposing the law “can be identified by their clothes”, thereby implying that they were all Muslims. This was soon followed by similar pro-CAA marches and rallies in different parts of the country.

One such march in Delhi was taken out by BJP on 20 December 2019 under the leadership of Kapil Mishra, former MLA from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who had recently joined the BJP. At 10:36 am on 20 December 2019, the Delhi BJP unit’s Twitter account posted a video statement by Kapil Mishra in which, he called the student-led anti-CAA protests an Islamist, riotous and terrorist movement. The conflagration of ‘Islamist’ and ‘Muslim’ with ‘riotous’ and ‘terrorist’ was a clear case of inciting hatred and enmity against a religious community. Mishra concluded the video statement by calling on his followers to mobilise on the streets in support of CAA.

Later that same evening, Mishra posted a video (which was deleted from his account later, but copies are still available online) of a pro-CAA rally he himself led in Delhi, stating that “thousands of youngsters” had joined him. In the videos of the rally, Kapil Mishra can be seen chanting the slogan “Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalo ko” (Shoot dead the bastard traitors to the nation). The slogan clearly targeted the anti-CAA protesters and openly incited hatred and violence against them by calling them “traitors” and asking people to shoot them.

On 22 December 2019, PM Narendra Modi held a rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan to kick off the BJP’s Delhi assembly election campaign. In his speech, the PM said that the anti-CAA protesters were misled by “urban naxals” and that there were no plans to conduct an all-India NRC, despite the fact that his government had already started the process by scheduling a house-to-house survey for preparing the NPR from April 2020. 

On 03 January 2020, Somasekhara Reddy, a BJP MLA from Karnataka made a speech during a pro-CAA rally in Bellary District in which, he “cautioned” Muslims against participating in anti-CAA protests and warned of serious repercussions in blatantly divisive and hateful language that incited violence.

“It’s just a caution for those who are protesting against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). We are 80 per cent and you (Muslims) are 18 per cent. Imagine what will happen if we take charge,…Beware of the majority when you live in this country. This is our country. If you want to live here, you will have to, like the Australian Prime Minister said, follow the country’s traditions……So, I warn you that CAA and NRC are made by Modi and Amit Shah. If you will go against these acts, it won’t be good……If you wish, you can go to Pakistan. We don’t have any issues. Intentionally, we would not send you…. If you will act as enemies, we should also react like enemies”.

Similarly in Delhi, several elected leaders of BJP, including those holding Cabinet positions such as Union Home Minister Amit Shah, among others such as Minister of Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh, Former MLA of Karawal Nagar and BJP leader Kapil Mishra, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ajay Singh Bisht (Yogi Adityanath), Minister of State of Finance Anurag Singh Thakur among many others, made provocative, threatening speeches inciting hate against the anti-CAA protestors. BJP leaders raised the pitch to the extent of calling the Chief Minister of Delhi a “terrorist.” The Election Commission of India banned BJP MPs Parvesh Verma twice and Anurag Thakur once from campaigning, for indulging in hate speech.

The violence which broke out in North East Delhi was clearly preceded by a number of speeches by BJP leaders openly maligning anti-CAA protestors and questioning their allegiance to the nation. They repeatedly made derogatory remarks laden with communal and hateful undertones, openly inciting violent acts against a minority community. 

Role of Kapil Mishra

The rise of protests in Delhi (and nationwide) in the immediate aftermath of the enactment of the CAA coincided with the lead-up to the Delhi assembly elections. With only a minuscule presence (3/70 seats) in the State assembly since 2015, the BJP ran a high-profile election campaign. The BJP’s star campaigners from across the country, including Chief Ministers of States and Union Ministers in the Central Government, camped out in Delhi to campaign for BJP candidates. The former BJP MLA and candidate during the Delhi assembly elections 2020, Kapil Mishra likened the elections to a ‘contest between India and Pakistan’.

  1. On 20 December 2019 at 10:36 am, the BJP’s Delhi unit account tweeted a video of a 280-second monologue by Kapil Mishra. In the video, Mishra is seen likening the anti-CAA protests to a riotous and terrorist movement. Later that same evening around 5 pm, Mishra led a rally from Central Park, Connaught Place Delhi in which, he chanted “desh ke gaddaron ko goli maaro saalon ko” slogan. He also tweeted a video of the same (deleted later). Around 5000 people are estimated to have attended the event. He uploaded another video (tweeted at 06:11 pm) from the same event, which shows other people chanting the same slogan. This slogan has subsequently been known to be used by people for inciting hatred against members of the Muslim community. Mishra, by raising slogans calling for the elimination of people, shows a clear and murderous intent to not only commit violence against members of a certain community but also to provoke individuals to commit violence against members of that community. The slogan also refers to a group of people that Mishra terms traitors and calls for their immediate execution. This slogan subsequently came to be used by several ministers of the BJP in the run-up to the Delhi Assembly elections, paving the way for a communally charged campaign and subsequently to the bloodshed and violence that took place in North East Delhi. The slogan was also heard by murderous mobs that went on a rampage in the streets and then attacked the property of members of the Muslim community. The accused has also caused intentional insult with the intent to provoke a breach of peace and for making statements with the intent to create enmity, hatred and ill will on grounds of religion. He has also indulged in the corrupt practice of promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India on grounds of religion and community.
  2. On 23 February 2020, at 01:22 pm, Mishra tweeted asking his supporters to gather at Maujpur Chowk, near an anti-CAA protest site. At Maujpur Chowk, while standing next to Deputy Commissioner of Police Ved Surya, Mishra is seen inciting the crowd to indulge in violence against the anti-CAA protesters if they were not dispersed by the police: “We will remain peaceful as long as (US President) Trump is here. But once Trump leaves, if the Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh roads are not cleared, we will not listen even to you. If the roads are not vacated, we will have to hit the streets.” Mishra also tweeted a video of the same around 3 pm which was viewed and shared by thousands of people (taken down by Twitter subsequently.) While addressing the crowd, Mishra further says, “This is the right moment. Exploit it. If you miss it, you won’t get another opportunity.” Thus, Mishra gives a direct threat to protesters at Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh, a predominantly Muslim area, and encourages the mob to take this opportunity and engage in violence. There cannot be an instance of a more direct link to the February 2020 Delhi carnage as it cannot be a mere coincidence that violence erupted in different parts of North East Delhi on the same day immediately following his speech. Murderous mobs chanted the same provocative slogan soon after the speech and Delhi came to a standstill for at least three days, during which mobs went inside people’s houses, looted their property and killed them. While it is the duty of every member of society to not do acts disrupting peace and order, as a public servant and Former MLA, this duty becomes more of a responsibility. Mishra made a statement with the intent to create enmity, hatred and ill-will on grounds of religion, and for indulging in the corrupt practice of promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India on grounds of religion and community. Moreover, the statement can be seen to have been made with the intent to incite a class or community of persons to commit an offence against another class or community.
  3. At 4 pm on the same day i.e., on 23 February 2020, Mishra arrived at an anti-CAA protest site with an armed mob and DCP Ved Surya (the same man who was seen in the 3 pm video). Mishra chanted slogans such as “desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalo ko” (shoot dead the bastard traitors) and “Kattue murdabad” (death to the circumcised – a reference to Muslims). In view of the events that unfolded following Mishra’s speech, accompanied by the fact that he arrived on the scene with an armed mob, his actions amount to nothing less than abetment to murder. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1RcLjP9068)
  4. On 29 February 2020, during a rally from Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to Connaught Place area, which was attended by around 1,200 people, Mishra raised the same slogan, “desh ke gaddaron ko goli maaro saalon ko”.
  5. Mishra’s speeches, which he gave on different platforms between 19 December 2019 to 23 February 2020, not only created an atmosphere of incitement but also caused the immediate spark for the anti-Muslim violence that unfolded between 23 and 26 February 2020. He himself led armed mobs during the violence to attack protesters. 
  6. Thus, the accused has been charged for offences under Sections 120B, 504, 505, 506, 499, 166, 157, 107 r/w 302, 107 r/w 146, 153, 153A, 153B, 298 of I.P.C., and Section 123 (3A) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Role of Anurag Thakur

The leading members of BJP made hateful campaigns by characterising anti-CAA protesters as ‘jihadists’, ‘naxals’, ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘terrorists’. Anurag Singh Thakur, the Union Minister of State for Finance, was one of the star campaigners of the BJP who directly called for violence against anti-CAA protesters. 

  1. On 27 January 2020, in an election campaign rally in Rithala, Delhi, Thakur was seen repeatedly chanting the first half of the slogan, “desh ke gaddaro ko…”, and exhorting the crowd to chant the second, violent half of the slogan, “goli maaro saalo ko.” At one point in the speech, Thakur says to the crowd, “Peeche tak aawaz jani chahiye Giriraj ji ko sunai de” (Be louder so your voice can reach the back and Giriraj ji can also hear it). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nscmHYGcu8)
  2. Within two days of Thakur’s speech, there were further instances of violence against anti-CAA protesters in Delhi. Thus, by insinuating the protesters to be ‘traitors’, Thakur committed the offence of criminal defamation against a collection of persons. Thakur’s speech also clearly incites violence and murder of members belonging to a certain religious community. Moreover, the statement can be seen to have been made with the intent to incite a class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community.
  3. The speech was made in public, in the presence of hundreds of people, at a rally that two other central government ministers were reported to have attended. The video of the speech went viral on social media and later received wide coverage in the national media, both print and broadcast.
  4. There were two instances of violence against anti-CAA protesters, merely two days after Thakur’s speech. On 30 January 2020, in the middle of the BJP’s hate-filled State election campaign, one ‘Rambhakt’ Gopal shot at a student of Jamia Milia Islamia, during a protest march. On 01 February 2020, another armed man opened fire at the Shaheen Bagh protest site.
  5. Thus, the accused is charged for offences under Section 120B, 504, 505, 506, 499, 166 , 107 r/w 302, 107 r/w 146, 153, 153A, 153B, 298 of I.P.C., and Section 123 (3A) punishable under Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Role of Amit Shah

On 28 January 2020, Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah, as a part of his vitriolic campaigning asked voters in Delhi to “press the EVM button with such force that the current is felt in Shaheen Bagh”. The message was an indirect call to take action against the protesters who were protesting for the repealing of an amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955, a law which arbitrarily grants citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on the basis of their religion, and excludes Muslims. Amit Shah was not only a senior Union Minister at the time but also the former president of the BJP who was still regarded as the most powerful person in the party. As Home Minister, he was also responsible for the Delhi Police and the overall maintenance of law and order in the capital city. As such, he had a greater duty of care with regard to his public statements, and his statement inciting violence against the protesters in Shaheen Bagh, therefore, assumes a greater degree of culpability. Moreover, his words also sent a clear signal to his fellow party members that such hateful and incendiary rhetoric would go unpunished. Thus, Shah’s actions promoted enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and caused intentional insult with the intent to provoke breach of peace. Thus, the accused has been booked for an offence under Sections 120B, 153B, 166, 504, 505, 298 of I.P.C., Section 123 (3A) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Role of Ajay Singh Bisht @ Yogi Adityanath

On 01 February 2020 at a rally in Rohini in West Delhi, Ajay Singh Bisht @ Yogi Adityanath claimed that CAA should be welcomed because it provides citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians fleeing atrocities in Pakistan. In the same rally, he stated, “Those who supported terrorists in Kashmir have come and sat on a dharna in Shaheen Bagh against the CAA and are raising slogans of azadi“. His statement attributes criminal intention to the attendees of democratic protests at Shaheen Bagh by calling them ‘terrorists’, thereby furthering the hate propaganda ahead of the Delhi assembly elections. On 02 February 2020, he also openly spoke about the action he took against the protesters in UP, “You should understand what they want, what they think about India, where are they taking it. If they indulge in rioting or arson…In Uttar Pradesh, I told the administration to make them pay for the damages and we seized their property”. In the same rally he said that those who do not listen to words will surely understand ‘the language of the bullet.’ The UP CM also said that since Narendra Modi became the prime minister, “we have been identifying every terrorist and feeding them ‘goli’ instead of biryani.” Adityanath thus, not only exhorts extrajudicial killings but also admits to overseeing extrajudicial encounters in gross abuse of power and, violation of the rule of law. He also equates the protesters with ‘terrorists’, which constitutes derogatory and defamatory remarks against a class of persons. Further, he directly calls for bullets to be used against the protesters. Thus, the accused has been booked for offences under Sections 120B, 504, 505, 506, 499, 166, 107 r/w 302, 153, 153A, 153B, 298 of I.P.C., Section 123 (3A) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Role of Parvesh Verma

After Union Home Minister Anurag Thakur, West Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma made inflammatory and derogatory remarks against those protesting against the CAA. In an election rally, the MP also openly threatened the protesters with dire consequences if elected to power. ​​​

  1. On 28 February 2020, during an interview with a news agency, Verma stated, “Lakhs of people gather there [Shaheen Bagh]. People of Delhi will have to think and take a decision. They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them…There’s time today, Modi ji and Amit Shah won’t come to save you tomorrow.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL9k9TM4b6Y) He gave an open threat to the protesters stating that “If the BJP is voted to power in Delhi, it will only take an hour to clear off protests in Shaheen Bagh.” By this statement, it is apparent that Verma openly insulted and attributed criminal intent to the people who were protesting, without any substantive basis. Thus, he clearly shows a criminal intent to provoke individuals to commit violence against members of that community. He also committed an offence of criminal defamation against a collection of persons by insinuating that the protesters would enter the houses of “people of Delhi” and “rape their sisters and daughters, and kill them.” The accused has also caused intentional insult with the intent to provoke breach of peace and for making statements with the intent to create enmity, hatred and ill will on grounds of religion. He has also indulged in the corrupt practice of promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India on grounds of religion and community. By making such provocative statements, it is also clear that Verma abetted the riots that took place in the month of February 2020.
  2. In the same interview, Verma further stated, “This election [Delhi poll] is not a small election but that for stability and unity of the country…” The BJP MP also said, “If my government is formed in Delhi, then give me only one month’s time after February 11. Will not leave any mosques built in my Lok Sabha constituency on government land will remove them all.” In this statement, Verma equates the stability and unity of the country with the desecration of religious places of worship of Muslims. Making such inflammatory statements at the time of elections not only demonstrates the malicious intent of Verma to polarize the elections but also poses a threat to public tranquillity, law and order. Thus, Mishra, with the intent to provoke breach of peace, caused deliberate and intentional insult to the Muslims and their religious place of worship by threatening to remove the mosques. The accused also made a statement with the intent to create enmity, hatred and ill-will on grounds of religion, and for indulging in the corrupt practice of promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India on grounds of religion and community. Moreover, the statement can be seen to have been made with the intent to incite a class or community of persons to commit an offence against any other class or community.
  3. In another interview on 29 February 2020, Verma stated, “Jihad means, if you are not Muslim, then you can’t even go to a Muslim colony and raise ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogan…Muslims want to take over India as this is what jihad means to them…but Hindus don’t indulge in jihad or religious conversion.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdnItfoxp9U&t=10s). In the same interview, Verma is seen attributing a criminal intent to the said community, by insinuating that Muslims want to overthrow the democratically elected government, and making baseless claims that Muslims want to take over India. Here, the intention is clear to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims. Thus, the accused promoted enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony. He also made a statement with the intent to incite a class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community.
  4.  Thus, the accused is booked for offences under Sections 120B, 153, 153A, 153B, 298, 499, 504, 505, 506, 107 r/w 146 IPC and Section 125(3A) punishable under Section 125A of Representation of People Act, 1951.

Role of Ragini Tiwari

Ragini Tiwari, a self-proclaimed Hindutva leader, who also campaigned for BJP candidates, used Facebook to incite violence against Muslims on atleast two occasions.

  1. On 23 February 2020, following the speech delivered by Kapil Mishra at Jaffrabad, Ragini Tiwari was heard shouting communal and casteist slogans such as, “Kaat daalo, jo bhi hai, kaat daalo… Bhimti hai kya?” (Cut them down…whoever they are! Are you a Bhimti?) ​(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKHnuZKfjoI). ‘Bhimti’ is a derogatory reference to a person belonging to a scheduled caste, and by using the term, Tiwari promoted hatred, ill-will and enmity against members of the Scheduled Caste. She was also calling on the mob to indulge in violence and commit murder. This was streamed live on her Facebook account. This indicates a call for violence against members of a certain community.
  2. In the same video, Tiwari also said, “Bahut hua sanatan par vaar, ab nahi sahenge vaar. Aar paar ki ladai, sabhi sanataniyo bahar aao. Maro ya maar daalo, baad me dekhi jayegi. Bahut hua…khoon na khaula…khoon nahi woh paani hai.” (Enough of attacks on Sanatan, we will no longer tolerate attacks…this is a do-or-die situation…come out! Kill or be killed…Enough is enough..if your blood does not boil, it is a shame!). In this statement, Tiwari is provoking members of the sanatan (Hindu) community against Muslims, in order to incite the mob to summarily execute members of a certain community. Moreover, the video shared by Tiwari from her account had a million views. Thus, Tiwari caused intentional insult with the intent to provoke breach of peace. The statement can also be seen to have been made with the intent to create enmity, hatred and ill-will on grounds of religion.
  3. On 24 February 2020, Tiwari was again heard shouting violent slogans, “Bharat me yadi rehna hai toh, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ kehna hoga” (If you want to live in India, you will have to say “Long Live Ram!”.) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKHnuZKfjoI) This video was also streamed by her on Facebook garnering several thousand views. The slogan tends to undermine the secular nature of the Indian Constitution and the Republic, and insinuates that only members of a certain community can be deemed to be lawful citizens. It also exhorts the forceful chanting of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ – a slogan associated with the Hindu religion, by members of other religious communities, failure of which would imply violent consequences. Thus, Tiwari’s actions can be deemed to have promoted enmity between different groups on religious grounds, which are prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony. Tiwari’s statement can also be deemed to have been made with the intent to incite a class or community of persons to commit an offence against another other class or community.
  4. Thus, the accused has been charged for offences under Sections 120B, 504, 505, 506, 499, 157, 107 r/w 302, 107 r/w 146, 153, 153A, 153B, 298 of I.P.C., Section 123 (3A) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, and Section 3(u) of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Role of Others 

1. On 03 January 2020, Somasekhara Reddy, a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the BJP from Karnataka “cautioned” Muslims against participating in anti-CAA protests and warned of serious repercussions, at a pro-CAA rally in Bellary district saying

It’s just a caution for those who are protesting against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). We are 80 per cent and you (Muslims) are 18 per cent. Imagine what will happen if we take charge…Beware of the majority when you live in this country. This is our country. If you want to live here, you will have to, like the Australian Prime Minister said, follow the country’s traditions…So, I warn you that CAA and NRC are made by Modi and Amit Shah. If you will go against these acts, it won’t be good…If you wish, you can go to Pakistan. We don’t have any issues. Intentionally, we would not send you… If you will act as enemies, we should also react like enemies.

2. On 29 January 2020, Tarun Chug, National Secretary, BJP, tweeted the following: “We will not let Delhi become Syria and allow them to run an ISIS-like module here, where women and kids are used. They are trying to create fear in the minds of people of Delhi by blocking the main route. We will not let this happen. (We will not let Delhi burn). #ShaheenBaghKaSach.” On 30 January 2020, he made another statement – “aaj yeh tukde-tukde gang ka head office ban chuka hai shaitanibagh, aur ye log Bharat ko, delhi ko, Syria banaana chahte hain, hum banne nahin denge (This divisive gang today has its head office in Satan-bagh and these people want to turn India and Delhi into Syria which we will not let happen!).” 

3. On 30 January 2020, Tajinder Pal Bagga, a BJP candidate in the Delhi Assembly election threatened violent actions to wipe out the Shaheen Bagh protest site if the BJP came to power. He said, “In Shaheen Bagh, claims are being made that the Indian Army kills its own people. Indian Army is being equated with the Pakistani army. Shaheen Bagh has become a hub of anti-nationals. And on 11th February, after the results, a surgical strike will be done on this adda [den].”

4. On 05 February 2020, Tejasvi Surya, BJP MP, in a speech in Parliament, called the anti-CAA protesters ‘fanatic Islamists’ who want to take over the Government of India. In his words,

 “What is extremely disappointing, what is extremely troubling is that the opposition of this country, knowing fully well that these legislations, especially the citizenship amendment act, have nothing whatsoever to do with taking citizenship away from anyone, has gone around the country indulging in a campaign of lies, campaign of slander, misguiding the people of this country……what is happening today in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi is a stark reminder that if the majority of this country is not vigilant, if the patriotic Indians do not stand up to this, the days of Mughal Raj coming back and revisiting Delhi is not very far away. Sir, what is happening in Shaheen Bagh is fanatic Islamism, masquerading in the garb of constitutional secularism. Sir, and therefore we must exercise vigilance to ensure that this country is on the path to true secularism.”

Conclusion

What is a conspiracy? In fundamental terms, it is the meeting of minds to commit (a) an unlawful act or (b) a lawful act by unlawful means.

Every constitutional democracy considers supreming the principles of natural justice and the rule of law. The rule of law rejects the philosophy of summary executions and vigilantism. The speeches made by Amit Shah, Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Ajay Singh Bisht @ Yogi Adityanath and Ragini Tiwari among other leading members of the ruling party make references to summary executions of those they deem ‘violaters’ and ‘traitors’. Shaheen Bagh, which became a site of protest occupied by women belonging to the Muslim community, came to be constantly demonised and insulted in their speeches. There was a constant attempt to not only derail the election exercise but also to create animosity against members of a certain religious community.

The repeated incitement to violence, hateful speech and attempts to create enmity towards a certain religious community were all carried out by elected leaders and official post-holders of the same political party. They were not isolated statements made in the heat of the moment by obscure individuals. These speeches were made by the top-most leaders and star campaigners of the ruling party during the course of an election campaign and in response to a large-scale protest being carried out against their policies. The repeated use of the slogan “desh ke gaddaron ko, gooli maro saalon ko” in various rallies and marches itself shows that there was at least some level of common intention and meeting of minds. The consistency with which the same message and rhetoric were repeatedly deployed by the top-most leaders of the ruling party clearly shows that it was a deliberate, planned and conscious conspiracy carried out to spread hatred and division in the society and incite violence against the anti-CAA protesters.

The charge-sheeted accused had entered into a deep-rooted and sinister conspiracy to do an illegal act with the express object to disturb societal harmony through their criminal acts. Through a sustained and well-oiled campaign, they created an acute sense of fear and insecurity in the minds of the minority community. Innocent people were killed as a result of this cold-blooded, brutal, gruesome and diabolical conspiracy. Government, private properties and religious places of worship were damaged, destroyed and desecrated. The law and order situation was paralyzed, essential services became unavailable, and rumours and disinformation became the order of the day as desired by the accused, who were acting in a systematic, structured and organized manner.

There are strong, cogent, reliable and clinching materials available on record against the accused persons. All the accused persons in this criminal conspiracy were pursuing their collective goal. They were privy to their operative responsibilities in the larger conspiracy, which was being controlled and guided by the principal conspirators. 

The singular objective of the conspirators was to overawe the Indian Constitution and to undermine the fundamental rights of citizens, thus, destabilizing the foundations of democracy. They aimed at curtailing the dissenting voices of the protesters by means of criminal defamation. There could not have been a greater international embarrassment for the Government of India than to have Ministers and leading members of the ruling party promulgating hate in the National Capital while a visit by the US President was underway. The end objective of all that the conspirators had conspired to was to uproot the Indian Constitution by sheer use of engineered, vicious and visceral communal violence.

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